Rotich repeats as national steeplechase champ

Rotich repeats as national steeplechase champ

All-American Anthony Rotich defends his title in the men's 3,000m steeplechase garnering his third national crown on the final day of the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. 

"I feel really good," Rotich said. "This race was really tough compared to last year. I felt my energy drop in the fourth lap so I really had to push myself in that last three laps. But overall I am extremely happy. It's not easy to defend a title but I worked through it."

The distance runner led the group throughout the whole race, but when the bell rang for the final lap the race between Rotich and Arkansas'Stanley Kebenei began. Both competitors would not relent as they battled for the leading spot. 

It all came down to the final water barrier where Kebenei fell as he was jumping over the barrier giving Rotich the edge as he ran through the finish line with a time of 8:32.21.

"That last barrier was tough," Rotich said. "I actually stumbled too but I think because I went into a bit slower than Kebenei I was able to keep my stance."

The seven-time All-American is the first back-to-back champion in the event since Matt Hughes (Louisville) in 2010-11.He is the third man in UTEP's history to win consecutive steeplechase titles, joining Jim Svenoy (1994-95) and James Munyala (1975-77).

The Defending National Champion also becomes the first man in Division I history to win both the indoor mile and the 3000m steeplechase in the same academic year. Earlier this year Rotich became the NCAA indoor mile champion as he clocked in a time of 4:02.54.

"He ran a super race today," associate head coach Paul Ereng said. "This is the NCAA Championship so I just wanted him to concentrate solely on winning rather than how fast he could finish the race. Defending a title brings tremendous pressure but he handled it very admirably. His win is a sweet ending to our time in Eugene."

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